11 Mar 2012

Hole of Horcum to Levisham, a 3 hour circular walk

Today it was a beautiful Spring morning with blue sky and little wind. We parked a mile beyond Lockton on the road to Whitby on a car park on the right just before you tip over a steep bank and down to Saltersgate and Fylingdales.
We crossed the road and turned right along a track that follows the road and an iron age dyke.
There are wonderful views down into the Hole of Horcum which I am reliably told was formed by a giant who scooped a lump out of the moor, and hurled it into the sky so forming the moon - or so the locals say.
As you start to drop follow the road down fast a small wooded area, there is a sign on the left for the Levisham Estate.
Climb over the style and start your descent to the valley floor. You may spot the stream running down the valley - you will follow midway between the stream and the woods on the left.
There is a well marked track but several opportunities to make a bid for an ascent back up the valley side - don't. You will pass a renovated farm building with no road access.
I suspect that the shape of the window openings and barbed wire surrounding it entirely means this is an enlightened National Parks venture. A two storey detached house suitable for several families of birds.
Follow along the valley side until you come across the board walk which takes you over boggy ground.
On your right is the very pretty stream which today had reflections of the clear blue sky and wonderfully lit moss. A small billy goat style bridge takes you across but before you cross note the way to the left and the gate a hundred yards or so to the left.
You will see a sign offering you the choice of a quick route up to Dundale Pond or the way we took to Levisham.
The longer way threads its way past lovely trees and wildlife and offers views into the valley below.
After a while on the left you can see the houses of Lockton and when you look further down the valley you will see among the evergreen trees, the old parish church of Levisham from the time that the village nested in the valley.
It is thought the village moved up the hill at the time of the black Death. Now the church roof is off but there is still one service a year to which the village attends, some taken down on the back of a trailer. There are a few moderate slopes up to the road into Levisham but a bench awaits you which provides an excellent place to rest and snack unless you can hold out to have a drink or lunch at the far end of the village.
The village is very attractive with a traditional layout, farms set back from the road and wide grassed areas either side.
Greetings to Gary and Cheryl our website designers who were elsewhere when we needed a coffee!
The pub seems to take pride of place at the head of the village while the church seems tucked away to the side. The road out of the village goes from the right side of the pub and rises gently to the gate onto the moor. Today we passed the workplace of a dry stone waller who is slowly repairing the limestone walls in the area.
When you pass through the gate to the moors there is a choice of route.
If your legs are strong you may wish to bear left just through the gate and follow the wall before swinging right and heading towards Skelton Tower which overlooks the valley through which the steam railway runs.
I always get a thrill to see and hear a steam train making its way up the valley, from the distance they look like toy trains. Perhaps I am reverting to childhood. If you take this route you walk to the end of the hillside on the right and then climb up the path that will bring you back nearly to the top of the bank from where you made the initial descent into the Hole of Horcum. Today we chose to take the right hand fork to Dundale Pond and then across the moor of a sweeping curve to the car parking you can see in the distance. The pond often has dragon flies hovering over it but today the reflection of the sky and white clouds made it very attractive.
It attracted Millie's attention who felt the need to swim around in it drinking as she paddled. The path back is easy going if not particularly exciting. We passed a group of men flying radio controlled plane some of serious size. This part of the walk becomes much more exciting when the heather is in flower. Towards the end of the path you can look down to the left and see the pyramid shaped early warning station on Fylingdales Moor.
Previously it had been contained in 3 huge golf ball shaped structures. Hear the Americans can listen in to what the naughty boys of the world are chatting about, a serious bit of kit that is not even marked on the map. Nearer to you is Barr Farm where I had the pleasure of visiting one of my further flung families. When I first called at the house there was no electricity, no mains water and the end wall was stacked with turf to burn on the fire. There was no need for sanitation as there were plenty of bushes. At the bottom of the bank you will see the Saltersgate Inn which sadly got only a short way into its renovation before it came to a halt. There was a fire that never was allowed to go out, something to do with an excise man buried beneath. The road to Whitby was often impassable for months at a time yet it was an important sea port with a safe harbour in a storm. With whaling in decline it was hoped that the quantity of goods imported made it worth while pushing a railroad across the moors and so the Pickering to Whitby Railway was built by George Stephenson - one of the earliest in the world. Your car should await you at the car park up the hill, you will recognise the short walk from here along the lip of the Hole of Horcum.
You can walk this anti-clockwise - Widdishins for those who dance round churches to conjure up the Devil. We prefer this direction as the pull up the slope of the Hole is hard work at the end of a steady walk and also to give yourself the choice of extending when half way round rather than at the start. Its a pay car park £2 so take some change to maintain the National Park. And finally - I just enjoyed this Spring picture.

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